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Instagram Ads: Lessons from $20 Million in Ad Spend with Jenny McCoy

Instagram Ads: Lessons from $20 Million in Ad Spend with Jenny McCoy


Hi I’m Jenny, I’m the founder of Good
Help, a Brooklyn-based digital strategy shop. We do a lot of things but our
specialty is in helping clients plan and manage social ad campaigns. Today I’m so
excited to grab a few minutes out of your busy day and share three key
learnings from over twenty million dollars in campaign spends. A special
bonus today we’ll be discussing Facebook and Instagram but these learnings are
channel agnostic so regardless of your social platform mix these learnings will
apply. Our first lesson is test small, learn big. A small upfront test campaign
is something to recommend to all of our clients especially clients who are
running their first social ad campaign. It’s the best way to establish
performance benchmarks and with less than 500 dollars in spend you can get a
ton of learnings that will make your larger budget work even harder for you
it’s also a great way to get Intel about creative performance so you’ll know
whether your existing assets work or if you need to invest in creating new
custom assets for your spend. And finally, if you’ve never run a social ad campaign
and you’re faced with some skepticism about whether or not it’s worth the
investment, a small test budget is the perfect way to establish a proof of
concept. Okay, so let’s take a look at a sample test and learn campaign the
campaign you create will of course have different inputs but by sharing this
example in explaining why I’ve made suggestions I hope you’ll be able to
easily build your own so first things first you’ll need to pick a goal for the
purposes of a test and learn campaign I suggest only testing against one goal I
also suggest going out for the most valuable goal or at least a goal that
you feel has real impact on your business
most times this is purchases but it can also be a goal like generating new email
leads it all depends on the nature of your business once you have your goal
set you’ll need to figure out your budget for upper to mid funnel
objectives like impressions video views or link clicks you can make most budgets
work but to allow yourself to get enough data to really dive into I’d recommend a
minimum budget of hundred dollars over a minimum of two to three days the reason
I recommend this is you want to get a high enough number of goal results so
that when you dive into your audience your placement your creative performance
you have enough data to pull actionable insights if you’re going after a lower
funnel objective you’ll want to give yourself both more budget and more time
the reason for this is lower funnel objectives like purchases or app
downloads are more difficult to achieve especially if this is your first so
a campaign for a purchase campaign I like to recommend a budget of at least
three times the cost of the product you’re trying to sell to make things
simple for today’s discussion and we’ll focus our tests spend on one platform
Instagram the added bonus of running on Instagram is that you can simultaneously
run across Facebook and your spend will optimize to the platform that’s
performing best automatically unless you have a channel specific goal or you have
Intel that one platform is more valuable than the other I recommend you take
advantage of this capability next up replacements so plug in your
creative and see how it looks across all the placements again your spend will
optimize towards what’s doing best so feel free to test everything and see
what works best now let’s talk audiences this is one of the components of social
ad campaigns that really sets them apart from ad campaigns on other channels
there are three types of audiences you can test and I recommend you test at
least two of these three so you can get an initial understanding of how your
content and your ask is being received the three types of audiences that exist
in social ad campaigns are first custom audiences these are your first party
audiences like your email list your site visitors or people who have engaged with
your Instagram account next audience type is look like audiences these are
audience sort of audiences that are built using your first party data and
there are people who look a lot like those owned audiences they’re kind of
the magic of social ad targeting finally we have interspace audiences these are
based off of users data and activity on the site so pick at least two of these
core audience types and you’ll learn a whole lot finally we have your creative
I recommend you test a minimum two creative options if you’re limited in
your creative assets you can simply test different copy or CTAs but if possible
testing two different formats is recommended so try a video against the
carousel or an image because you have a limited budget I do recommend that you
limit how much creative testing you do otherwise you can have such a big spread
of variance that it’s tough to really make sense of what did and didn’t work
so if you’re still not sure how you can get a ton of learnings from such a small
spin here’s an example of a bunch of learnings I got from a $200 ads Ben
our goal was to increase site traffic and we had no historical benchmark data
to compare to so right away we now have both cost per click and CPM brand
benchmarks that we can use to more accurately plan a bigger future spend in
this test campaign we ran across both Facebook and Instagram
and as you can see here Instagram was a clear winner with 95% of the spend going
to newsfeed placement on Instagram and our audience testing we didn’t have a
clear winner on performance across genders but we did see the 18 to 34 age
group I have the majority of goal results and since we tested three types
of audiences we saw that custom look-alike and interest audiences all
perform quite well finally our creative testing showed that
the carousel format worked much better than the image format and that learn war
was a better CTA than get offer the CTA learning might also mean that our
audiences are not quite ready to purchase as they seem to be considering
the offer reverse really being ready to act on it
so that’s a lot of learnings and it only took a two and a dollar spend our next
lesson is that a simple campaign can be very profitable
maybe you’ve been overwhelmed by the jargon of social advertising or you’ve
only seen super complicated media plans for social ads bins either way it’s not
always that complicated you can simplify things a great deal by focusing on your
most valuable goal first there are absolutely times when a more complicated
media plan is necessary but if you’re just starting out keep it simple and
focus on this one most valuable goal here’s a plan I’ve written for tons of
small businesses and startups what did they have in common
purchase was their most valuable business goal so that’s where we started
after we assign the budget for purchase we use the rest of the budget to fill
their funnel in this case we’re using a 60/40 split between the two objectives
this is of course not a hard rule but this ratio is a great starting point as
we move through the rest of the plan you’ll see we start with qualified
audiences like email subscribers and site visitors and our purchase campaign
and as we try to build the funnel with site traffic we use look-alike audiences
this basic plan has been really valuable and a great starting point for many of
my clients and I hope it’s helpful for you too our last lesson is that social
ads can make a full funnel impact this lesson is important because a lot of
times there’s pressure especially if you run or work on the social aspect of your
business to make social be the hero it’s okay if you find through testing that
social ads are just not making an impact on your sales but I encourage you to see
what other impacts they might be making that are valuable and easy to amplify
through an ad spend and finally explore look beyond social only metrics like
likes follows and post engagements and dive into metrics like email leads and
site visits better learn how a social admin can
your business hey I’m Lizzy from later and I’m here with Jenny McCoy
she’s an advertising expert and we’re gonna be chatting about the best ways to
optimize your ads for social media okay so for small businesses especially every
dollar obviously really counts and a lot of small businesses aren’t as familiar
with this area for advertising on social do you think that it’s something that
they can learn easily on their own or something that maybe it’s better to hire
out I think it’s a mix of both I think it really helps when you’re getting
started to have someone holding your hand and showing you where to start
as soon as appending on the complexity of the campaigns are running it you can
learn very quickly I think the trouble that most people have is just knowing
where to start right and then another question I had
was talking about content so how important is great organic content to
the ads process great organic content it can really work with paid in one of two
ways it can help to inform what creative you
should run in your ads just based on how people have responded but paid can also
help inform what you should be focusing on and or on organic as well okay so
does organic content typically perform really well in a paid environment then
like is it something where you look for content that has performed well that way
and then maybe turn it into an ad it really depends on what your ultimate
goal is because a lot of organic content is more top of funnel so if you’re
actually looking to drive a purchase you might need to you know have more direct
language than you would use organically yeah for sure okay and then we talked a
little bit about $500 kind of being a good test amount to start out with have
you seen success with campaigns that are around that number yeah totally um and
it definitely depends on for example if you’re going after purchase the cost of
the item if it’s a really expensive item you’re probably going to need a larger
budget just because it’s a longer purchase cycle and you’re going to need
to spend a little more time to reach people that makes a lot sense so a lot
of the budget setting is around kind of the the purchase price of the actual
item that you’re trying to sell yeah exactly
and also just how informs you already are about the consumer journey so if you
already know that if you get them on their email list and and then you can
retarget them that that’s the route to go then you have a shortcut and you’re
way ahead of a lot of other people you

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